Israel says moving ahead with Rafah ground operation

TEL AVIV   -   The Israel Defense Forces Wednesday said they had conducted all necessary preparations to take Gaza’s southernmost city of Rafah and can launch an operation the moment it gets government approval, a senior Israeli defense official said Wednesday.

Israel deems Rafah the last Hamas bastion in the Gaza Strip and is poised to evacuate Palestinian civilians from there and assault Hamas holdouts, the unnamed official told the Reuters news agency, which didn’t specify whether the source was connected to the IDF.

A spokesperson for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government told the agency that Israel was “moving ahead” with a ground operation, but gave no timeline.

Meanwhile, multiple Israeli reports indicated that top Israeli security officials visited Egypt Wednesday to coordinate the planned offensive in Rafah.

The officials included IDF Chief of Staff Herzi Halevi and Shin Bet head Ronen Bar, according to Channel 13 news. Axios reported that the officials had met Egypt’s intelligence chief Abbas Kamel and Chief of Staff Osama Askar, amid fears in Cairo that an offensive could create a humanitarian catastrophe that will drive tens of thousands of Gazans to breach the border and enter Egypt.

ePaper - Nawaiwaqt